Wisconsin corn mill agrees to pay $940,000 to settle permit violations

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A milling company has agreed to pay $940,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging multiple violations at a plant that was the scene of a fatal explosion in 2017, state Justice Department officials announced Wednesday.

The agency sued Didion Milling Inc. in November 2020 alleging state inspectors discovered 30 violations that the company’s Cambria corn mill in 2019, including emissions, record-keeping and reporting violations. Didion spokesperson Scott Rippe didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment on the settlement.

The Justice Department asked the Legislature’s finance committee on Wednesday for permission to accept the settlement. Republicans passed a law in 2018 requiring the department to get the committee’s permission before settling any lawsuit as a way of diminishing Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul’s powers.

Five Didion employees were killed in a grain dust explosion at the mill in May 2017. Last year, a federal grand jury charged the company with fraud and conspiracy in connection with the explosion, alleging the company failed to keep up with cleanings at the plant and falsified records to make it appear as if the cleanings were completed. The company responded to the charges by insisting the explosion was an accident.

The case is set to go to trial in October.


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